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Protecting your Photos on Social Media – A Safer Sharing Guide

2022-04-06T16:00:01+00:00

Last Updated on 6th April 2022

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A group on Facebook that posted photographs of young girls in their school uniforms was recently discovered, according to reports in the local news. This group sourced the photographs from the private social media pages of girls and women, some of whom are reportedly from County Down.

According to the BBC the page, named “The Best School Girls,” has since been taken down by Facebook for violating their policies. The photographs posted are said to have been sourced from the individuals own social media profiles, with some of the featured photos being taken up to fifteen years ago, meaning the present ages of the ‘schoolgirls’ vary considerably.

The page described itself as a page for “sharing photos of pretty girls.” Although the content posted on the page was not explicit nor reported to have contained nudity, the context of the page may well be interpreted to have sexualised connotations.

The PSNI have said they received three reports about the Facebook group but as the photos were already open to the public [via the poster’s social media pages] and contained no nudity, no criminal offence had taken place.

Responding and Reacting: Steps to Take Today

For those who have had their photographs posted on the page – whatever their current age – the lack of criminality involved is likely to be of little comfort. In fact, it may even add to the frustration. Law is most often black and white, as in this case, and leaves little room for nuances.

As for parents and carers, many of you will be left extremely worried by this incident and wondering what to do next and how to protect the children and young people in your care from being targeted.

It’s not always easy to know where to turn to and what to do when something like this happens, especially given the lack of legal resources available. That is why we’ve created this guide to give you practical steps you can take today.

Privacy Settings and Controls

One of the most practical steps we can all take is utilising the settings available on social media. Often under-looked or misused, social media privacy settings can be key for keeping control of who can access personal content and information.

In this case, the photographs were taken directly from public social media pages. They have not technically ‘stolen’ these photos. It is also worth remembering that people can create fake profiles with the intention of adding children and young people as a ‘friend’ to access their photographs.

You can learn how to use the privacy settings on each of the main social media platforms via our Safety Centre, where you can also find out how to block and report users.

Facebook
Instagram
TikTok
Snapchat

Copyrighting Content

In the UK, photographs, illustrations, and other images are generally protected by copyright – meaning that users will usually need the permission of the owner to copy the image or share it on the internet. This includes images taken on mobile phones or cameras.

You own your image, in order to protect yourself, copyright it. If you want social media sites to take an image down, the quickest way to do it is to point out the fact you have copyrighted it.

Jim Gamble QPM Chief Executive Officer
Ineqe Safeguarding Group

How to report copyright infringements:

Facebook
Instagram
Snapchat
whatsapp

You can include the copyright symbol © on your images to make the processing of reports quicker. While not required by law it helps you establish ownership of the image.

Top Tips and Talking Points

Use our top tips and talking points to start conversations with the young people in your care.

Pause before posting

Talk to the young person in your care about what they’re posting online. Content that may seem innocent to them could contain information and images that are potentially harmful or could be misused.

Encourage them to ‘pause before posting’ – have they reflected on who they want to view the content? Posting something publicly means anyone can see it. Are they giving away information without realising (such as anything visible in the background)?

This also applies to parents and carers too. ‘Sharenting’ is the act of sharing information online about your children, creating a digital imprint. Find out more about the risks of sharenting and why we all need to be careful what and where we’re posting.

Talk about Safety & Privacy Settings Together

Using our Safety Centre, learn together how to use safety settings and talk about parental controls, including why they’re important and why you should both remember to check them regularly for any updates or changes to the settings.

Trusted Adults

Make sure the children and young people in your life know who their Trusted Adults are so they understand who to turn to if they’re worried, stressed, or upset. Remember, even if a young person doesn’t know whether their photo has been used or not, they may still be worried or upset about it. Use our Trusted Adult resources to help.

Taking back control

If a child or young person has posted self-generated sexual imagery, or it has been shared online by others it’s important to know what steps you can take to support them. Read our article on taking back control of self-generated images.

Educating, empowering and protecting the NI school community

The digital world is 24/7; it’s outside and inside of the school gates, so you need a service that does the same. Safer Schools NI is a digital library of age-appropriate safeguarding resources that you can check out anytime, from your phone to your computer to your classroom.

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Reporting Child Sexual Abuse Imagery

  • Childline and the IWF have an online tool to help children and young people regain control of any nude image of themselves online. You can access this here.
  • Adults can also report the URL of images for removal directly to the Internet Watch Foundation.
  • Adults can make an online report to CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command) or contact the local police force for support if they have concerns a child is being groomed or sexually abused online.
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Who are your Trusted Adults?

The Trusted Adult video explains who young people might speak to and includes examples of trusted adults, charities and organisations.

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Pause, Think and Plan

Use our video for guidance and advice around constructing conversations about the online world with the children in your care.

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